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Science And Human Values Essay

Science, Technology, And Human Values Essay

Science, Technology, and Human Values in Sigmund Freud's Civilization and Its Discontents, Henrik Ibsen and Arthur Miller's An Enemy of the People, and Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse-Five

Technology has advanced to the point where it touches our lives in nearly every conceivable way-we no longer have to lift a finger to perform the most trivial tasks. The wealth of information and science we have learned in the last few centuries have made our lives easier but not always better, especially when concerning civilization as a whole. Ibsen, Freud, and Vonnegut argue that human values have not kept pace with knowledge's unceasing expansion, which has become an anathema for the individual person and deleterious to society's delectation, albeit without people's entire comprehension.

Henrik Ibsen, as adapted by Arthur Miller, uses his play An Enemy of the People to illustrate how one's contentedness is not necessarily aided by technology but in many instances in fact hindered. When the town's main industry, Kirsten Springs, becomes polluted it raises queries from Dr. Stockmann as to its hazardousness to its occupants. Nearly all residents of the little Norwegian city rally behind Aslaksen, the printer and leader of the business class, in destroying the doctor's credibility so that his accusations of the dangerous water will never be believed by tourists, which would result in a prodigious financial loss for all. This quaint town is a representation of humanity's tendencies towards egoism. When money is involved, it doesn't matter what the risk is, regardless of physical injuriousness and potential loss of life. The springs symbolize technology and Dr. Stockmann stands for venerable human values. The technology has become prosperous for the townspeople but the same cannot be said for their morals that have been impeded by the rapid expansion of man's engineering. Ibsen unmistakably contends that this is distressing and disastrous. A return to strong ethics will prove to be a superior salvation for society rather than new and enhanced technology. Dr. Stockmann claims that "you are fighting for the truth [...] and that makes you strong" (124). Indeed, the truth will save lives and is better for all regardless of a temporary monetary forfeiture. Ibsen would prefer civilization to be morally robust with antiquated technology over a privation of man's ethos.

Sigmund Freud would be quick to agree that technology has not been a panacea for society. The underlying principles in Chapter III of Civilization and Its Discontents were a hotly contested topic in the online discussion. It is debatable as to whether Freud wanted a return to the days sans advanced technology but it is obvious that he is mostly displeased with how scientific improvements have influenced our lives. The author asserts that technology can never be a nostrum for humanity because it is not better than "the superior power of nature, [nor improves] the feebleness of our own bodies [......

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"These essays, which I have called Science and Human Values, were born at that moment. For the moment I have recalled was a universal moment; what I met was almost as abruptly, the experience of mankind. On an evening like that evening, some time in 1945, each of us in his own way learned that his imagination had been dwarfed. We looked up and saw the power of which we had been proud loom over us like the ruins of Nagasaki.... the power of science for good and for evil"

page 3.

Methods
Methodology


Chapters

Chapter One | Chapter Two | Chapter Three

Next


The first chapter "The Creative Mind" deals with the unity of all creativity, be it scientific, literary, or artistic. (3-24)

Study of the character of scientific activity and imaginative acts (6)


The second chapter "The Habit of Truth," shows how asking the question, "Is this so?" unites all kind of intellectual activity. (27-48)

Nature of truth in science and as applied to society and the influence of the empirical truth on society. (6)

Another word for truth is authentic, that is authenticity revealing the actual circumstances of human existence, as opposed to perpetuating falsehoods.

Unless we doubt there is no reliable method for detecting error; without detecting errors we will believe in unexposed falsehoods.


The final chapter "The Sense of Human Dignity," elaborates the theme, "Men have asked for freedom, justice and respect, precisely as the scientific spirit has spread among them." (51-76)

Conditions for the success of science are value that inhere in the human character.

Page 6.

The pages above in parenthetical (6) marks.

Chapter One | Chapter Two | Chapter Three

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I - "The Creative Mind"


The first chapter deals with the unity that creativity is capable of bringing to all subjects, be it scientific, artistic, literary, or mathematical.

(3-24).


1. Essay was born in ruins of Nagasaki: “a universal moment” “we changed the scale of our indifference to man.”

2. Our world is penetrated through and through by science; made & powered by science; his aim is to tie science and ethical values.

3. Two definitions of Science (popular [applied] | specific [technical]). Not just a body of knowledge -- Praxis v. Theoria, he draws no sharp distinction between knowledge and use. A discovery of pleasure at the heart of creation

4. electrons, radio waves, e/m spectrum, and their discoveries led to TV “man masters nature not by force but by understanding”

5. insight derived from seeing into nature: Copernicus and Kepler had an imaginative leap is necessary for experimental research.

6. No scientific theory is a collection of facts. A search for unity in hidden likeness; Dalton and atoms.

7. Science finds order & meaning in our experience that grows from a comparison of otherwise unlike things -- Newton, gravity: earth & moon not unlike the apple or falling fruit.

8. Coleridge -- Beauty is unity in variety: rearranging experience with new meaning.

9. “Explosions of hidden likeness -- reenact the the creative act involves engaging in nature, there is no ‘do not touch’ sign on nature.


Highlights from Chapter One: the story since 1400 has been “an enrichment, moving towards what makes us more deeply human.”

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Landscape of rubble;

Hiroshima a month after the atomic bombing.


Science's character is its underlying commitment to:

examining truth, in order to discern errors from falsehoods
finding hidden similarities
using experience as the test


A sense of human dignity "means and ends are seen in fearful sharpness of outline."

                  “Is you or is you not my baby?” Song Title


universality of our destructive capabilities had deep psychological scars:

"My aim in this book is to show that the parts of civilization make a whole: to display the links which give society its coherence and, more, which give it life. In particular, I want to show the place of science in the canons of conduct which it has still to perfect." (6)

Next


"I define science as the organization of our knowledge in such a way that it commands more of the hidden potential in nature."

Two types of scientific approaches: "...practical and theoretical"

••

•••

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II. - "The Habit of Truth,"



The second chapter shows how asking the question, "Is this so?" unites all kind of intellectual activity.

(27-48)


1. “the act of creation to lie in the discovery of a hidden likeness”

2. “the sanction of the experienced fact as the face of truth” basis of science.

3. “by making such connections we find in our experiences the map of things.”

4. three steps in discovery are 1) sensations, 2) finding coherence, 3) create a symbol to be mindful of what we have sensed and connected.

5. Kepler’s laws and Newton’s concept of gravity follow the same three steps – a quirk of space and time ... “They find unity in what seemed unlike.” Kepler was a thinker who exhausted metaphors before discovering his laws of motion.

6. Two schools of science (dialectical) are logical positivism versus behaviorists (operational).

7. the error exposed: science is misinterpreted if not held to account by experience as opposed to the classical view that “our concepts are not accessible to empirical tests.”

8. Hobbes and the reliance on a deductive reasoning for a method of inquiry utterly fails to come to describe the cosmos of relativity and tiny world of quantum mechanics.

9. Renaissance (Arabic ideas): the physical world is a source of (reliable) knowledge.

10. The habits of trust rests on finding truth and especially the truth that humans are ends in themselves and not means to some ideal or abstract end.

11. “By doubting we are led to inquire...” Abelard and later Descartes: Discourse on Method “In creation man brings together two facets of reality and by discovering a likeness between them, suddenly makes them one.”


Next

1 Faith in self evident truths
2 Knowledge based on doubt (skeptically)


“by doubt we are led to inquire and by inquiry we perceive the truth.”

Peter Abelard ( quoted on p. 45)

"The habit of testing and correcting the concept by its consequences in experience has been the spring within the movement of our civilization ever since [Copernicus]"


definition of the pragmatic test of truth,

46


Intent | Chapters' overview | Chapter One | Chapter Two | Chapter Three | Summary | Conclusion


Next

III - The Sense of Human Dignity



Chapter Three elaborates the theme, "Men have asked for freedom, justice and respect, precisely as the scientific spirit has spread among them."

(51-76)


Bronowski’s argument’s structure:


1. introduction reviews the habit of truth in science & the arts.

2. values by which we live should be studied empirically --
he asks “ought” questions; What ought we to know and then do?

3. concepts of value act simultaneously to tie us together and
to assure freedom “positivism” is a weakness due to uncertainty.

4. examines how scientists act as a social group --
the power of virtue.

5. virtue is one of the “inescapable conditions for its practice”
not dogma - but process.

6. ethic for science “derives directly from its own activity” --
dissent, freedom, tolerance.

7. “not a mechanism.... not a set of findings but the search for them” - detect errors.

8. “the physical benefits of science have opened a door”
making society work, stability.

9. tolerance, independence, reason & justice are necessary for
human dignity.

10. “We are trying to employ the body [of science] without the spirit values of: “freedom, justice & respect.”

11. Conclusion: “the need to explore remains....” human imaginative values are important.

Next



Chapter Three: pages 51-76, contents and highlights.


All people need society & knowledge in order to verify their experience of life.
distinguish what is true from what is illusory
p. 46 definition of the pragmatic test of truth


My theme is that the values which we accept today as permanent and self evident have grown out of the Renaissance and the Scientific Revolution…this change has been an enrichment, moving towards what makes us more deeply human," (51)


The Sense of Human dignity arises from the protection of independent thought within the framework of social obligations to verify the truth of what one believes.

There are, I hold no atomic facts. In the language of science, every fact is a field -- a crisscross of implications, those that lead to and those that lead from it." (52)


“In the language of science, every fact is a field—a crisscross of implications, those that lead to it and those that lead from it.”
(p.52).


“in the language of science, every fact is a field -- a crisscross of implications...”


“the concepts at which its laws cross, like knots in a mesh.”


“gravitation, mass and energy, evolution, enzymes, the gene, & the unconscious”


"the strong invisible skeleton on which it articulates the movements of the world."


Pragmatic test of truth (explicitly on page 52)

model of truth – or = “reality of things” (52)

"facts are the only raw material from which we can derive a change of mind." (53)

"examine the values by which we live"

”the duties of people, which alone hold a society together,"


… also into the freedom to act personally which the society must still allow its people."


"is" & "ought" are in different "worlds" (56)

"The view I have put forward also looks beyond things, to the laws & concepts which make up science."

"We ought to act in such a way that what is true can be verified to be so." (58)

"A true society is sustained by a sense of human dignity." (64)
"writes of the deepest meanings of science…"

Next


The Third chapter's, organizational framework:

"The Sense of Human Dignity,"


1. evolution of contemporary values [hard or soft inheritance?]
introduction reviews the habit of truth in science & the arts

• Creative discovery of underlying unity.
• Scientific revolution and the Renaissance.
• The Habit of Truth is a fundamental personal criterion.


2. examine the values by which we live (thrive, nourish one another?).

a. fear of uncertainty in what we can know and ought to know
b. Gresham’s Law: the bad drives out the good.
values by which we live should be studied empirically -- he asks “ought” questions


3. concepts of value do two things at once: create societies and preserve freedom. Concepts of value act simultaneously to tie us together and to assure freedom “positivism”


“We OUGHT to act in such a way that what IS true can be verified to be so.”


4. he selects a manageable focus or what he calls a field to examine.
examines how scientists act as a social group -- the power of virtue


5. virtues grow from practice, not rules; especially inescapable features of practice. Virtue is one of the “inescapable conditions for its practice” not dogma - but process


6. Roles of independence, originality, dissent, freedom and tolerance of uncertainty. Ethic for science “derives directly from its own activity” -- dissent, freedom, tolerance


7. Science is “not a mechanism but a human progress” ... A search for a set of findings. “Not a mechanism.... not a set of findings but the search for them” - detect errors


8. science as a method –free inquiry– freely arrived at, to overthrow outworn ideas: “the physical benefits of science have opened a door” making society work, stability


9. Explore the truth, must have independence, tolerance, peer review, rational discourse. Tolerance, independence, reason & justice are necessary for human dignity


10. returns to the Nagasaki theme: “is science an automaton... Lamed our sense of values. “We are trying to employ the body [of science] without the spirit [values]”

“freedom, justice, & respect” these are inherent values of authentic knowledge


11. Analyzed the activity of science conclusion: “the need to explore remains....”

human imaginative values are important. The “irresistible need to explore.”


Next


“Men must be willing and as a society must be organized to correct their errors.”

(64)


"The danger to society is not merely that it should believe wrong things, though that is great enough; but that it should become credulous." W.K. Clifford

(65)

we must consult one another to verify the accuracy of our individual & collective biases


Science defined as organized knowing via the discovery of "hidden likeness"

"As a set of discoveries and devices, science has mastered nature; but it has been able to do so only because its values, which derive from its method,…."

"There is today almost no scientific theory which was held when, say, the Industrial Revolution began about 1760."

(67)

Bronowski rejects science as a collection of amoral facts reflecting discoveries of reality’s hidden secrets..... instead it is a process by which we correct our mistakes!

Next


Human values are rationally derived

(68)


“Has science fastened upon our society a monstrous gift of destruction which we can neither undo nor master, and which, like a clockwork automaton in a nightmare, is set to break our necks?”

(69-70)


“Is science and automaton, and has it lamed our sense of values?”
“the organic values which I have been unfolding.”


“We are hagridden by the power of nature which we should command, because we think its command needs less devotion and understanding than its discovery.”

(70)


“the end for which we work exists and is judged only by the means we use to reach it.”


"The body of technical science burdens and threatens us because we are trying to employ the body without the spirit; we are trying to buy the corpse of science. We are hagridden by the power of nature which we should command, because we think its command needs less devotion and understanding than its discovery."

(70)


"The sense of wonder in nature, of freedom within her boundaries, and of unity with her in knowledge…."

(71)


“scrupulously seeks knowledge to match and govern its power.”

(71)

There is a pleasure from knowing the accuracy of the observation, the reliability of reinforcement.
“For this is the lesson of science, that the concept is more profound than its laws, and the act of judging more critical than the judgment.” (73)


2 ) examine the values by which we live


“The values by which we are to survive are not rules for just and unjust conduct, but are those deeper illuminations in whose light justice and injustice, good and evil, means and ends are seen in fearful sharpness of outline.” (73) [ last line ]



Summary-- Style; that of a mathematician laying out premises or postulates & supporting proofs.


I Hidden likenesses are discovered by free and open inquiry
II “There have always been two ways of looking at truth”
III The necessity of human dignity in distinguishing higher, deeper, enduring truths.

Next


His uses an analytical approach, using a dialectic to look at the schools of both positivism (logical positivism of Hobbes, Lock & Hume) and analytical philosophy (Wittgenstein later) to assure readers that fact is grounded in repeatable, refutable and empirical testing.


In terms of Mayr he is describing the worldview of science against the backdrop of the changing zeitgeist of Europe from the end of the middle Ages until the dawn of the Atomic Age.


Dialectical method:

In terms of the methodology one needs to understand the world, consider Bronowski’s suggestion that we are in the world and to manage our relations with the world requires each of us to exercise our ethical imaginations for all humans to survive well.

“... two ways of looking at truth”

1. faith, belief in self evident truths or the expression of trust in some authority.
2. doubt, skepticism, test one’s assumptions & observations.


“by doubt we are led to inquire and by inquiry we perceive the truth.”

Peter Abelard

His own definition of the pragmatic test of truth

(p. 46)

Next

Meaning, does it exist, and does it work?

"I do not think that truth becomes more primitive if we pursue it to simpler fact. For no fact in the world is instant, infinitessimal, and ultimate, a single mark."

"we cannot disentangle truth from meaning–that is from an inner order."

(explicitly on page 52)


In creation man brings together two facets of reality and by discovering a likeness between them, suddenly makes them one.”


Distinguish what is factual (empirical) from what is illusory:
model of truth or = “reality of things” (52)


“in the language of science, every fact is a field -- a crisscross of implications...”


“The values by which we are to survive are not rules for just and unjust conduct, but Bronowski rejects science as a collection of amoral facts reflecting discoveries of reality’s hidden secrets..... instead it is a process by which we correct our mistakes!


“We ought to act in such a way that what IS true can be verified to be so.”
(58)


“men must be willing and as a society must be organized to correct their errors.”
(64)


“Has science fastened upon our society a monstrous gift of destruction which we can neither undo nor master, and which, like a clockwork automaton in a nightmare, is set to break our necks?” (69-70)

“Is science and automaton, and has it lamed our sense of values?”
“the organic values which I have been unfolding.”
“We are hagridden by the power of nature which we should command, because we think its command needs less devotion and understanding than its discovery.”

(70)

Next


Intent | Chapters' overview | Chapter One | Chapter Two | Chapter Three | Summary | Conclusion


Conclusion

Bronowski's style, substance and outline of his concluding chapter.

 

style | substance | outline of his conclusion

Pp. 49-76, footnote.

Substance

Human inquiry, creativity and discovery of artistic expression and natural laws spring from the same freedom of inquiry and duty to accurately portray the hidden likenesses that provide meaning to the various mountains, artistic works or scientific bodies of knowledge we must pass on from one skeptical generation to another.

 

For example in Chapter Three: The Sense of Human Dignity

1. evolution of contemporary values [hard or soft inheritance?]

2. examine the values by which we live (thrive, nourish one another?).

a.     fear of uncertainty in what we can know and ought to know

b.     Gresham's Law: the bad drives out the good.

3. concepts of value do two things at once: create societies and preserve freedom.

           

"We OUGHT to act in such a way that what IS true can be verified to be so."

4. he selects a manageable focus or what he calls a field to examine.

5. virtues grow from practice, not rules; especially inescapable features of practice.

6. Roles of independence, originality, dissent, freedom and tolerance of uncertainty.

Now outline these points and turn them in during the next class:

7.         

8.        

9.                     

10.       

11.       


Style; that of a mathematician laying out premises or postulates & supporting proofs.

His is an analytical approach, using a dialectic to look at the schools of both positivism (logical positivism of Hobbes, Lock & Hume) and analytical philosophy (Wittgenstein later) to assure readers that fact is grounded in repeatable, refutable and empirical testing.

In terms of Hardin he is literate and describes a method in which to embed ecolate research.

In terms of Mayr he is describing the worldview of science against the backdrop of the changing zeitgeist of Europe from the end of the middle Ages until the dawn of the Atomic Age.

In terms of the methodology one needs to understand the world consider Bronowski's suggestion that --In the language of science, every fact is a field-- a crisscross of implications, those that lead to it and those that lead from it.

(p.52).

Intent | Chapters' overview | Chapter One | Chapter Two | Chapter Three | Summary | Conclusion


Electromagnetic Spectrum

One of three fundamental universal forces

 

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